The Blackboard Jungle
Directed by Richard Brooks. US. 1955. NR. 101 minutes. Warner Bros. 35mm.
Sun., May 27, 2012
A young Sidney Poitier also has a featured role in this earlier (1955) rendering of the theme of dedicated teachers dealing with delinquent kids in a tough school environment; only this time Poitier is a student in a violent New York City school, and Glenn Ford plays the role of the put-upon, earnest teacher. Ford plays Korean War veteran Richard Dadier (Hey, Mr. Daddy-O!) taking on his first teaching job and faced with one of the toughest groups of kids ever shown in a film up to this time. With excellent supporting performances by Anne Francis (as Fords long-suffering wife), Richard Kiley (as an idealistic colleague), and Vic Morrow (as the pupil from hell), this is a searing commentary on the negative aspects of urban school life in the late 1950s that still has much resonance today. (NOTE: Blackboard Jungle has the unique honor of having introduced rock-and-roll to the movie- going public, thanks to its theme of Rock Around the Clock, sung throughout the film by local singing group Bill Haley and the Comets.) (Bill Roth)